Saturday, February 28, 2009

States of Mind (6)

The House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts, made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Laughing Whitefish State Park Upper Peninsula Michigan Fall colors 2005

Falls at Laughing Whitefish State Park on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

It Get's Larger About 20 Miles From the Beginning.

The headwaters of the Mississippi River - Itasca State Park in Minnesota

Vicksburg Civil War Battlefield - Visitors Center

Civil War battlefield fortifications near the Visitors' Center at Vicksburg, Mississippi

Banichi Leofric

Banichi's favorite thing to do outside is to roll in the dirt and coat himself with loose dust, leaves, and grass. I took this photo of him doing just that two days ago.

It was 15 degrees outside when I went walking this morning - and the only parts of me that were chilly were my nose and my knees. The sky is cloudless and the sun is shining brightly on the Flatirons. We had a few flurries of snow - nothing measurable - yesterday morning when it was 25 outside. We're now up to a whopping 20; I opened the patio door, and both kits ran out and came right back in. Once the sun makes it over the privacy fence, I'll open the door again; then the kits will want to sunbathe. There was a chimney flue fire at the Irish kids' house yesterday morning - no one was injured and other than acrid smoke in the house, there was no damage. I took Rosie and Remy for a walk and then stopped off at my sister's house until the owners called with an "all clear" report. (Boulder's firefighters appeared to be uncoordinated during this time...)

The maintenance men have dug a 10-inch-deep trough the length of the backyard, about a foot away from our patios. I have no idea what it's for.... I'll ask Jim or Rob the next time I see them. The city will be inspecting our apartments March 9 and 10 - maybe it has something to do with that? But they will be looking at the plumbing, electrical systems and the fire/smoke detectors... so I don't see how there could be a connection.
Just for the heck of it, I dyed my hair a couple of days ago, also - so now I am partially a carrot-top like Conan O'Brien. - It does seem to go well with all the freckles I have on my face....

Friday, February 27, 2009

States of Mind (5)

011008 (3) Great Aunt's Place in Kentucky

Thoroughbred horses aren't the only livestock found in Kentucky!

Oak Alley plantation in Louisianna.. I was there :-)

Oak Alley Plantation in Louisianna

The Atlantic Ocean off the Maine Coast

The Atlantic Ocean pounds the coast of Acadia National Park in Maine

Trinity Church, St. Mary's City

Trinity Episcopal Parish Church, established in 1638 on Trinity Creek, in St. Mary's City, Maryland. - One of my ancestors came to the colonies and worked here as a bond servant for six years, before heading to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

The Tumbling Critter Sitter

Having slept for 15 hours, I feel much better now. The sunrise is beautiful, and I took my walk in the dark this morning. The kits are running about and purring like mad - happy that I'm back to my 'normal.' We had Chinook winds yesterday, and I'm sure they contributed to my feeling poorly. I fell into a deep funnel-like hole on Wednesday night - I was watching a fox and wandered off the sidewalk, falling into the Silver Lake Irrigation Ditch street crossing check-point. I had to laugh - I landed on my knees in water and leaves, covered with mud, but did not drop the pan of fudge brownies I was carrying! (Perhaps I should explain that I was walking to the Redwood and 19th St. bus stop, that there are no streetlights in the area, and I was on my way home from taking care of my sister and brother-in-law's critters. - And my brother-in-law is the head of the Silver Lake Irrigation Ditch company....)

The state of Colorado, after hearing that a large number of high schools have drill teams, has agreed to allowing each school district the right to handle "fake guns" (i.e. wood, plastic and duct-taped drill rifles) found in parked vehicles. They agreed they went overboard in the case of Marie Morrow. ... The Denver Broncos have released my favorite player, Ebenezer Ekuban. That leaves only Dre Bly and Champ and Boss Bailey for me to cheer for. ... A cold front came through last night, so we will be leaving the 60s behind us, and there is a slight possibility for snow over the weekend (hooray!). ... An 18-month-old female grey wolf (wearing a GPS collar) has made her way from Yellowstone to the western slope of the Rockies. Two years ago a 2-year-old female (GPS collared) was struck and killed by a car on the Interstate here. What is drawing these single ladies to this area? We did have a good wolf population here until the 1930s, when they were hunted to extinction; is heredity/genetics bringing them back? ... And The Rocky Mountain News, a newspaper that has been published in Denver since 1859, is printing it's last edition today; I'm sorry to see it go.

Since I have no large house-sitting jobs scheduled for March, I hope to get a lot of research done. I have to admit the recent lack of production is entirely my fault, as I have become addicted to Hatchlings and Mafia Wars (they are game applications on Facebook), and keep looking for more eggs to feed my pets, and more experience points to claw my way up the Mafia ladder... Yeah!!! Today is Friday! Enjoy the weekend! (And, if you're looking at my "States of Mind" photos - YES! I am definitely a country girl; not a city girl.)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

States of Mind (4)

LaRue Swamp and Southern Illinois Farmland

LaRue Swamp and farmland - view from LaRue-Pine Hills Nature Area, Shawnee National Forest, Wolf Lake, Illinois

1885 Bushing Covered Bridge - Ripley County Indiana

The Bushing Covered Bridge built in 1885 in Ripley County, Indiana. (My great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Nocks, moved from Ripley Co. to Iowa in the mid-1850s.)

42 Julia Belle Swain heading upriver just south of Lansing IA, on a two-day fall color tour

The Julia Belle Swain heading upriver, just south of Lansing, Iowa.

kansas 021

Doniphan County, Kansas - My great-grandfather, grandfather, father and uncle farmed near this spot....

Not Much of Anything...

It's a Chinook winds day, and I feel awful. If you're intersted in pre-history, please see the story about a cache of Clovis-era artifacts/implements being found in Boulder at:

Hope everyone has a good day!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

States of Mind (3)

Summer at Ginnie Springs 19

Campsites at beautiful Ginnie Springs, Florida. This is one of the coldest, most refreshing springs I've ever visited - go there in July or August, if you get the chance!

 Lovers Leap - Located in Rock City, Georgia

The renowned Lovers Leap, near Rock City, Georgia.

Wailea Elua ~ Wailea Beach Maui Hawai`i

A view of Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawai'i

Silver City an Idaho Ghost Town

Silver City, a ghost town in Idaho

More Wildfires

Jefferson County (JeffCo) is just to the south of Boulder County here in Colorado. Yesterday, along a stretch of train tracks in JeffCo a Union Pacific engine was reportedly "not sounding right" according to several people who live by the tracks - some looked out their doors and windows to see what was going on. Several people saw sparks - and these caused 7 wildfires along the tracks in JeffCo yesterday. One house and several outbuildings were consumed by the blazes - luckily, a neighbor happened to see the fire start near the destroyed house and was able to evacuate it's 92-year-old owner and her daughter before the home caught fire. Union Pacific is assisting those people with losses. This is one of the reasons why I keep blogging that we need rain, snow, sleet... any precipitation is welcome!!

It reached 68 degrees here yesterday - and it's more than 40 outside right now. The sunrise was glorious, and the girls, Suki and Boo, seemed to enjoy their dawn walk with me. Soon I'll be headed over to the Irish kids, and then home to my kits for a few hours before returning here to feed the girls supper. I'm also making Kathy and Jim a pan of brownies as a welcome home treat, and then I can go back to my kits. Sigh. I swept my patio yesterday, and found the kits' purple bell ball in a corner under some leaves - I tossed it out in the yard and had Lovey and Banichi playing chase for about 30 minutes. It was great fun watching them run and chase that ball.

Let's see... bits and pieces today.... My cousin took the Virginia Bar Exam yesterday in Norfolk, and the whole family is cheering her on (she's already passed the New York Bar)... My cousin Patti in Idaho has a terrible head cold and swears she's dying from it... I've gotten hooked playing with the Hatchlings application on Facebook (and the Mafia app, also!)... My nephew Mike, the tattoo artist, has named his studio "Immortal Ink on the Hill"; his studio is on Broadway, next to the University of Colorado, and the area is known as "the Hill", "Uni Hill", and "University Hill." ... Kathy and Jim are cross-country skiing today in the Copper Mountain area and are due back tonight... And I'm looking forward to seeing Tom Selleck portray Jesse Stone Sunday night on CBS - I love the books, and I love Selleck's portrayal of this interesting policeman!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

States of Mind (2)

Bixby Bridge

The Bixby Bridge on Highway One, California

Down town Denver at Dusk

Looking west in the evening, the Rockies form a backdrop for the lights of downtown Denver, Colorado.

For more information visit:

The Nathan Hale State Forest outside Coventry, Connecticut

Delaware River Water Gap, viewed from Mt. Tammany on the New Jersey Side

View from the Red Dot Trail of the Delaware River Water Gap, Delaware

It's Fat Tuesday!

Today is the last day to "live high on the hog" prior to the 40 days of Lent, if one is Catholic. Lovey is drooling on me; Banichi is prowling in the backyard; the sun is shining, and we're expecting highs in the 60s today. At 9:15, I'll head over to see the Irish kids, and then I'll go to Suki and Boo's, to stay with them until tomorrow night. So I'll be walking four large dogs and feeding and sleeping with two again. I will, of course, return for several hours tomorrow during the day, so the kits can run outside. - Sunday night, watching Nature's "In the Valley of the Wolves," I was at first worried that the cats would react to the wolf and coyote howls. Lovey and Banichi slept peacefully through the first 40 minutes of the program, then when Casanova's pack returned triumphantly to the valley, Lovey awoke to the howls, brushed up twice her normal size, flew to the top of the bookcase, and then searched intently for the source of the hunting howls. I had to suppress a chuckle.

Not much else going on, so I thought I'd share a few news tidbits that caught my attention:
~~A 21-year-old man wanted by the U.S. Army for desertion was arrested in Boulder over the weekend. He was ticketed for allegedly resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, and taken to Boulder County Jail. Jail staff found three pairs of panties in Mauger’s shirt pocket and said he was wearing a woman’s thong underneath his boxers. He refused to tell jail staff where the undergarments had come from and why he had them, police said.
~~A bizarre deep-water fish called the barreleye has a transparent head and tubular eyes. Since the fish's discovery in 1939, biologists have known the eyes were very good at collecting light. But their shape seemed to leave the fish with tunnel vision. Now scientists say the eyes rotate, allowing the barreleye to see directly forward or look upward through its transparent head. They are being studied off the coast of central California and are found in the sea at depths of 2,000 to 2,600 feet.
~~Mysterious UFO sightings may go hand in hand with a puzzling natural phenomenon known as sprites — flashes high in the atmosphere triggered by thunderstorms. The dancing lights have appeared above most thunderstorms throughout history, but researchers did not start studying them until one accidentally recorded a sighting on camera in 1989. "Lightning from the thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite," said Colin Price, a geophysicist at Tel Aviv University in Israel. "We now understand that only a specific type of lightning is the trigger that initiates sprites aloft."
(If you want more info on the last two items, check out the Science section at

Enjoy Fat Tuesday, and for those of you at Mardi Gras or Carnivale any where around the world - party a little for me!

Monday, February 23, 2009

2 of Us 3

A Leofgifu in a shopping bag (complete with receipt!)

The freckled face of the Critter Sitter, after 9 hours on-line - note the presence of the peanuts on the Kleenex box, and the water bottle and migraine meds behind the monitor/beside the speaker....

States of Mind

Kymulga Mill Reflection, Alpine, Alabama

The old Kymulga Mill outside Alpine, Alabama

ak, alaska, alaska animal, alaska animals, alaska bald eagle, alaska bald eagles,  alaskan bald

Eagles abound in Homer, Alaska

0579 Slide Rock Arizona State Park

Oak Creek Canyon, Slide Rock State Park in Arizona

DSCN1750 Mulberry river, Arkansas

The Mulberry River in Arkansas

Hair and Cinema

It's a very cloudy Monday, even though we are not expecting rain or snow. I spent yesterday relaxing at home - cuddling with the kits, reading the Sunday papers, and playing on the computer. Oh, and I got my hair chopped off again. Before the Stock Show in Denver, my hair was well past my shoulders; just before the Stock Show, I had it cut and asked for it to be "short - very short," but the stylist left it long enough to be pulled back into a ponytail.... There's no way it can get into a ponytail now. My hair is between between one half and one and a quarter inches long all over my head... it is definitely short now!

It's currently 35 degrees outside and the kits have been chasing one another around the backyard, into the apartment, and back out again. I did not watch the Oscar Awards last night, so I have no clue as to who won anything... I guess I'm turning into "an old fogey," as I don't have much inclination to visit the cinema often. In the past two years, I've been to see two films - the last Die Hard film and the last Indiana Jones film... and I don't rent any, either. I'm one American who is not supporting the entertainment industry. I watch the Encore channels, AMC and TCM for my movie fixes. Banichi just chased off four pigeons, and is now eyeing Gimpy with speculation... Gimpy will fuss at him if he comes close, and Banichi will back down, so I don't have to worry.

I'll be walking the Irish kids Tuesday through Friday, and spending Tuesday night with Suki and Boo. I'll also be feeding the Sammies both times on Wednesday, while Kathy and Jim are out cross-country skiing. Otherwise, I'll be sticking close to home, cleaning and doing research. It's supposed to be in the 60s and upper 50s all week, without a chance of precipitation until (possibly) Friday - maybe I'll break out the shorts!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mardi Gras Sights


A mask made of marzipan....

Mardi Gras 2007  Endymion Float

The Endymion float - Mardi Gras 2007

Bourbon Street

Musical Legends Park, Bourbon Street, New Orleans

Odds and Ends

Remy made me laugh out loud yesterday evening: having finished his dinner, he came to sit beside me on the sofa in the den (which made him taller than me), placed a paw the size of the palm of my hand on my arm, and (once he was sure I was gazing into his eyes) he... belched genteelly in my face. I'm guessing it was an expression of thanks - and probably a hint for more to gnosh on, as well.
The kits were extremely happy when I came home last night - each of them spent 2 hours in my lap being stroked and loved and scratched before they would allow me to crawl in bed. As soon as I had pulled the covers up, I had both Lovey and Banichi lying on top of me, purring away...
Gimpy, the squirrel, appears to have missed me. When I stepped out on the patio to fill the bird feeders and put out the peanuts, Gimpy came and sat on the toe of my shoe - and chittered and fussed at the kits when they came to investigate.

Today is George Washington's birthday, which few people actually remember anymore, since Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays were lumped together for the national Presidents Day holiday. This week also contains the days Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday; and since the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans intrigues me, the following is a brief history of said:

The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to Medieval Europe, though we have no written record of how that really transformed into the current Mardi Gras of today. But the origins of the Mardi Gras we celebrate today -- with Kings, Mardi Gras colors, and brass bands -- are traced to New Orleans.
Although we can trace its history to the Romans, a French-Canadian explorer, Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville, landed on a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans in 1699 and called it "Pointe du Mardi Gras." He also established "Fort Louis de la Louisiane" (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated the very first Mardi Gras.
In 1704, Mobile established a secret society (Masque de la Mobile) ... similar to those who form our current Mardi Gras Krewes. It lasted until 1709. In 1710, the "Boeuf Graf Society" was formed and paraded from 1711 through 1861. The procession was held with a huge bull's head pushed alone on wheels by 16 men. This occurred on Fat Tuesday. ~~~
New Orleans was established in 1718 by Jean-Baptise Le Moyne. By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans... but not in parade form. In the early 1740s, Louisiana's Governor The Marquis de Vaudreuil established elegant society balls - the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.
The earliest reference to Mardi Gras "Carnival" appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body. That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association is the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.
By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback to celebrate Mardi Gras. Newspapers began to announce Mardi Gras events in advance. In 1871, Mardi Gras's second "Krewe" is formed, the Twelfth Night Reveler's, with the first account of Mardi Gras "throws."
1872 was the year that a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival -- Rex -- to parade in the first daytime parade. They introduced the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold; the Mardi Gras song, and the Mardi Gras flag.
In 1873, the first floats were constructed entirely in New Orleans instead of France. In 1875, Governor Warmoth of Louisiana signs the "Mardi Gras Act" making it a legal holiday in Louisiana, which is still is.
Most Mardi Gras Krewes today developed from private social clubs that have restrictive membership policies. Since all of these parade organizations are completely funded by its members, it is frequently called the "Greatest Free Show on Earth!"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Snowy Boulder, CO Trail...

South Boulder Creek Trail is located at Walker Ranch

This is the South Boulder Creek Trail at Walker Ranch in Boulder County, CO.

Two Inches of Snow!!!

Two inches of dry powder snow fell last night between 8 and midnight; it was 2 degrees outside at 2 a.m.; and it's now 25 with a cloudless sky and brightly shining sun. The sunrise was beautiful - yellows, oranges and reds that cast some awesome light effects on the Flatirons this morning. There is a lot of ice on the roads and pavements this morning - a lot of it unseen under the snowpack. (it helped to cause a 17-car pile-up in Denver.) I fell asleep with both dogs last night, and awakened with Remy only; Rosie had moved to the dog bed at the foot of the bed. I fell asleep reading about the early Celtic Christian church in 7th century Ireland; that topic had put both dogs to sleep earlier in the evening.

My kits are upset that I haven't let them out this morning, but as I'm about to run back to the Irish kids, I'm afraid that the kits wouldn't want to come in when I needed them to. The birds and squirrels are feasting away on the patio, so at least the kits are being entertained. I'll be back home to sleep in my own bed this evening - with two warm purry bodies. I enjoy sleeping with the critters belonging to other folks while they are away, but I love to sleep in my own bed with my own kits, too.

Tomorrow, Sunday, February 22, the Weather Channel will do a story on the Windsor, CO winter tornado of last year on Weather Stories. It will show at 8 p.m. EST, 7 CST, and 6 MST. Host Jim Cantori (sp?) has been a favorite of mine since before Hurricane Andrew, and he grows better with age... I believe that a lot of the footage that will be used was shot by out local NBC news team, who was out in the Windsor area covering another story when the super-cell appeared. If you're interested, I can tell you that the local preview of the show was very good.
I'll either blog more tonight, when I return home... or I'll just hit the keys tomorrow morning, as usual. Have a good weekend!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Party time!!!


I've finally reached my place today - the kits are playing through the open patio door, and the wind is picking up again. I took Rosie and Remy on an early morning walk , and we scooted back in the house before there were a couple of blasts that would have knocked all of us off our feet. I had been asked to help a lady learn to use the local bus system, but our time together was cut short, so I just had time to give her maps and bus schedules before my sis dropped me off here at home. The Bobcat Ridge fire is only 70% contained today at noon - the winds are wreaking havoc.... and one can see the smoke from downtown Boulder.

I started our last night with Rosie in bed with me, and, sometime when I was sound asleep, Remy got in Rosie's spot - I awoke to him licking my face this morning. I've caught both of the kids on their hind legs, trying to paw open the pantry doors this morning - there are a few brownies left in there, and my bag of pretzels... I need to turn the water on for the backyard water-feature when I return... between the winds, sun, and extremely low humidity, the water level just keeps dropping; and I figure I can remove some more leaves while I'm out and about there. I also saw a neat creation that now allows people at home to convert their 35mm slides into digital photos, and then they an be cropped, edited, whatever... I'm gonna show it to my brother-in-law later this afternoon.

Will try to get more in here tomorrow!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Counting Sheep?

Sheep Shot, Lewisburg, WV

Sheep outside Lewisburg, West Virginia


Bighorn ram outside Estes Park, Colorado

Sleeps with Dogs

I slept sandwiched between Rosie and Remy last night. Let me tell you that two large Irish Setters put out a lot of body heat - I ended up with covers only over my feet. I'm reading a history of the Restoration of Charles II currently, and the kids seem to like the names of the people - Buckingham and Lauderdale seem to keep their attention. I took them on 3 walks yesterday; one long and two short... Once over to and around Wonderland Lake, once around Centennial Middle School, and then around Crestview Elementary. For some reason, they ignored me while I was putting together the ingredients for double-chocolate brownies - but when it was time to remove the brownies from the oven, they were both right there. I had to put the brownies behind the locked door of the pantry to cool....

I saw a fox this morning when I took the Irish kids out for an early walk - they did not see it, huddling behind the tire of a truck, and I took care not to bring attention to it. There is a great horned owl in the neighborhood, and it was in the backyard early this morning... Luckily the dogs were sound asleep, so I got to enjoy a 15 minute serenade of hoots and whos. Got here, to my apartment, just before 8, and immediately petted the kits, fed them, cleaned their potty boxes, and then fed the birds and squirrels. Lovey keeps running back inside to make sure that I'm really here, and then runs out again to catch some sun. Banichi comes in, strops my legs, and then strolls out to his favorite sunny place again. My current big dilemma? Do I next read a history of the Border Reivers between Scotland and England? Or a book regarding the immigration of a family from England to what was then Rhodesia? Or a book on the early Celtic Christian/Catholic church?

It was 22 earlier this morning - now it's 35 degrees. There is once again a possibility of snow flurries tomorrow evening, but with the winds gusting tomorrow afternoon, I think the snow is unlikely. It's been snowing like mad on the western slope - but we are dry. The Bobcat Ridge wildfire is almost completely contained, and hopefully will be extinguished before the winds begin again tomorrow. The weather folks are saying we might reach 60 on Sunday - which is extremely odd for Colorado in February, especially at 6000 feet. And Fred, my ivy plant, put out a new stem that I've had to train back around again - he's going to look like a ball of leaves soon...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Eye-catching Window

Red ivy decorated window.(Oslo,Norway)

This beautiful wall and window, encircled by flaming ivy, is by the River Aker in Oslo, Norway.

House Sitting and Wildfires

I'm about to begin a stint of house-sitting, and am not sure when I'll be blogging again - I'll try to continue on a daily basis, but I don't have internet access where I'll be, and so will have to blog during the small amount of time I'm home visiting the kits... There is a possibility of snow flurries throughout today and tonight... we'll see if any actually falls or not. We did have several wind gusts of 68 mph here in Boulder during the day yesterday. The kits watched me pack my overnight bags before bed last night, and then stuck to me like glue while we were in bed; they know those bags mean I'm going to be scarce for a little while.

Just before I exited the Hop bus yesterday, I overheard two college students discussing the news coverage of the President's signing of the economic stimulus bill. These two young men could not understand why one of their girlfriend's was watching the coverage, even though she told him that she wanted "to witness history." Then the guys started asking each other why the President chose Colorado, why Denver in particular, why the Denver Museum of Nature and Science specifically, and what was so important about this stimulus package, anyway?? Ah... youth and blissful ignorance...

I am amazed at how the internet makes the world so much smaller: I have received several e-mails and offers of friendship from folks in Australia and people who care about animals after I posted my comments about the wildfires in Australia... It's kind of overwhelming for a recluse like me! And we had a wildfire break out in the Jefferson National Forest near Loveland yesterday, along Bobcat Ridge; the high winds fueled the fire like mad, and it is still out of control. Luckily it's not near any dwellings; unluckily, it's not near any dwellings. There is no road access to the area and the firefighters are having to go in on foot, carrying all possibly needed equipment in their hands and on their backs... My hat is tipped to them and to all firefighters today!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

A publicity shot for the DMNS, featuring the Prehistoric Period....

Dr. Grandin; President Obama

Dr. Temple Grandin was extremely interesting during her presentation last night at the Boulder Bookstore. First, she gave an overview of the first chapter of her newest book and also spoke of being autistic and "thinking in pictures." Then she fielded questions from the audience for about 45 minutes before thanking us for showing up and beginning to sign her book. The questions she was asked ranged from parents of autistic children asking how to break through to their child, to a woman whose horse bites when the girth is tightened, to dogs and cats with other behavioral problems. She was interesting, entertaining, and refreshingly blunt. I liked her a lot.

Yesterday we had a temperature from 19 to 61 degrees; today we might hit 50, but we have the winds to contend with - 25 to 35 mph winds, with up to 60 mph gusts. I'll be wearing my ear muffs when I walk the Irish kids later. The kits are having a ball in the bright sunshine, and Banichi has been playing tag with Big Red, one of the squirrels. When Red has had enough, he just charges Banichi, bowls him over, and heads for the peanuts... Then Banichi has to take time to wash and recover his aplomb. I saw a few crows and ravens while I was out walking earlier - the only 4-legged critters were dogs that were being walked by their people.

President Obama is flying to Denver today to sign the economic stimulus package - as soon as this was announced, I made plans to be there to witness this event; then it was announced that attendance was by invitation only... so there went that idea. I love the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which is where the package will be signed into law about 12:40 (MST) this afternoon. President Obama and Vice President Biden are expected to take a tour of the solar panels that provide power to the Museum, as well as the internal power plant, prior to the signing ceremony. Ah, well, an historic event will take place again today and, not very surprisingly, I'll once again be absent.... Have a good week!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidential Homes

Mount Vernon Home of George and Martha Washington

Mount Vernon, George Washington's home farm, comprised just 500 acres of his 8,000 acre estate.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello House

Monticello, the home designed and lived in, by Thomas Jefferson

Springfield Lincoln's Home

The only house/home that President Lincoln owned was in Springfield, Illinois

Why We Love Cats and Dogs

Last night I watched "Why We Love Cats and Dogs" on the PBS show Nature, and I was enchanted. Near the end of the program, I began to cry when Jerry was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer, and immediately Lovey came into my arms, curled up high on my chest, and let me hug and cry all over her. Banichi had been sleeping, and he awoke and came to me to curl up in my lap... My kits and I definitely share empathy. (And last night, when I went to bed, Banichi brought me his favorite shoestring and laid it on my chest.... he's such a good, thoughtful boy!) I thoroughly enjoyed the first segment about dogs and owner "types", and then I was startled to see a man sitting in Chautauqua Park in front of the Flatirons here in Boulder, discoursing on animal and people relationships. His name is Marc Bekoff, and he is a professor here at CU - If you're interested in him, his personal website is at And, of course, there's more info on the PBS Nature site, too, (including the entire story of Jerry, the dog with cancer) at: I recommend this episode to anyone who has pets and to any animal lovers in general.

It's 25 degrees outside, there are few clouds in the bright blue sky, and the sun is shining warmly. We're supposed to reach the mid-40s today, while on the west slope they are expecting 8 to 16 inches of snow; that system is supposed to reach us on Wednesday, but we'll only have a few flurries, if that, so the weather folks say... The kits are running around like maniacs this morning, chasing one another, attacking leaves and just being playful kits; I tossed one of their plastic bell balls out into the yard this morning and it's disappeared from view. I don't know if the kits have chased it about in the yard, or if a squirrel decided it was a neat treasure and absconded with it. The birds and squirrels are once again flocking to the feeders, even though the kits are out and about...

Not much else going on with me. I just started a book about Restoration London, having just finished one about Henry VII. I think I'll spend the day doing genealogy research before I head off to the Boulder Bookstore to see Dr. Temple Grandin's presentation. - Oh, I did have to laugh today: MSNBC released a group of current historians' ranking of the first 42 Presidents of the United States; Lincoln was number one,Washington was number two, and third was FDR; their ranking of the worst Presidents was headed by Buchanan, then Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce. The reason I laughed? I'm a distant cousin of two Presidents - Grover Cleveland and Franklin Pierce... Have a Happy President's Day holiday!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Koala & Ant Nebula

Koala (at Kuranda Koala gardens)

A koala at Kuranda Koala Gardens in Queensland

Ant Nebula, Mz3

The Ant Nebula (Mz3) - thanks to NASA and Hubble

Fires & Kepler

It's 17 degrees outside and another powdering of snow fell last night; since the sun is shining it won't last long. I had to call Lovey back inside this morning - she was playing the part of a cutting horse and using the squirrels as cattle. I thought she'd get tired of doing this in about 15 minutes; I called her inside at the end of 35... the squirrels seemed to be relieved. The critters cleaned out the feeders yesterday, so I had to refill everything this morning after my walk. I saw a couple of tourists out and about early today and they were exclaiming to me about how wonderful the weather is here... I didn't tell them that we were having an unusually dry and warm winter so far.

I do realize that I'm always whining or complaining about how dry we are. Our spring, summer, and fall water supply comes from the northern western slope of the Rockies - and they are having a good winter - with lots of snow... so we should be OK later in the year... But I worry about wildfires. Which naturally leads me to the wildfires in Australia. It is a terrible shame that some of the fires in Australia were caused by arson - a human who knowingly set fire to the sere countryside. I grieve for the waste of human lives, for the loss of whole communities, and (being me, with my critter leanings) I deplore the horrendous loss of wildlife. The news story of the volunteer fire-fighter sharing his water bottle with Sam, the female koala with burnt feet, was very touching. Just think of the numbers of people who died in these flash fires without warning - and then multiply it by the thousands for the indigenous wildlife who also had no chance of survival. It is truly a sad time in the Land Down Under.

Kepler will launch on March 5 at 8:50 (MST). Kepler was built by Ball Aerospace here in Boulder; it has a planned 3 and a half year mission during which it will follow in Earth's orbit and will keep its' observations trained on a single star field, hoping to find another Earth-like planet. Kepler will be commanded by undergraduates at CU's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. It will study more than 100,000 sun-like stars that astronomers believe have captured habitable planets within their gravity wells. - V-Ger, where are you?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love, love, love...

Jade  Puppy

Jade loves her snugglie stuffy.


Three kits are NOT a crowd!

Montecore Burrows In

This photo of Montecore represents me today.

Snow and Critters

Happy Saint Valentine's Day! I send my heart to each person who reads this blog today. We received an inch and a half of snow overnight; it melted where it hit the sidewalks and pavement first, then froze again, and then more snow fell upon it... it is treacherous out this morning. I put on my Yak Trax before taking a step outside, so I had no problems, but I saw 6 cars sliding around during my walk today. It's 20 degrees out there, and we're expecting flurries all day, with a high of 30. I just wish we'd get about 10 inches of snow - that would definitely help our dryness. The squirrels are chasing each other all over the privacy fence and around the patio; there are about 30 small birds on the feeders and under them on the patio; and my kits are curled up on my legs. - And, Kathryn, thank you so much for the hat and scarf (again); I think they're keeping my ears, nose and lips from falling off my head while I'm out walking!

I watched another two episodes of Jockeys on Animal Planet last night. Again, if I had known nothing about thoroughbred racing and the lives their riders lead, I would have found it fascinating. Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue just presented 10 doxies up for adoption here in the Denver area (on the local news channel) - and they are adorable. I do realize that as much as I see needy animals and as much as I want to bring them home, I can't. Lovey and Banichi are more than enough for my small apartment - so I may always "oooooo" and "aaawwww" over any type of critter, but I have finally come to know my limits (I hope!).

I'll be spending this up-coming week with the Irish kids; their family is headed out for a short vacation. Of course, I'll be home with the kits for several hours each day, and will let them have a run outside if they desire it. Yesterday, I took Rosie and Remy around the near-by elementary school, and then over to Kathy and Jim's yard. Jim let Suki and Boo out and we had a 5-way "Who's Got the Ball?" game. The ball in this instance is a soft latex ribbed ball in wild, tie-dye colors, it's about the size of a softball, and it has a truly obnoxious squeaker - it squeaks on both the squeeze and the release. But the dogs love it - and all of them got an excellent workout, as did I. I was sopping wet with sweat after a 30-minute run, chase and throw game with them... maybe I will lose some weight!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Drill Team Rifles

The rifle on the left is a rifle used by the drill team when presenting the Colors; the one on the right is a mock practice rifle. Three rifles that looked like the one on the right sparked off the expulsion of Marie Morrow.

Back in Class!

Marie Morrow apologized to the School Board Superintendent last night, when she was allowed to speak in her own defense about leaving three fake practice drill team rifles in the back of her SUV last week. She was immediately suspended, as per the county rules. This afternoon the Superintendent called Miss Morrow and informed her that she may return to her classes on Wednesday, following the Presidents Day holiday break. Miss Morrow said that she, honestly, hadn't given a thought to the fact that the wood, plastic, and duct taped drill rifles were lying in plain sight in the rear compartment of her SUV. I am happy to announce that someone in the school system has some sense.

Niece Sarah at Work

Yes, she is vacuuming a small mountain lion! Cal-Wood, Jamestown, CO

A Trace of Snow; Mountain Lions

We had a trace amount of snow fall yesterday evening,but there's no sign of it this morning - even though it's 22 degrees outside. It's mostly cloudy, and there was just a small break in the clouds to let the rising sun peek through... The Flat Irons and taller spots of the Foothills are wreathed in dark grey clouds, and very tiny dry snowflakes are occasionally falling. The kits can't quite decide whether they want to be in or out, so there is constant traffic through the patio door, with Lovey frequently leaping onto my chest. I filled the bird feeders and put out peanuts for the squirrels as soon as I returned from my walk, and the critters are eating up. I'll be out with the Irish kids this morning, and will then, hopefully, settle down to do some research. I found a hot lead last night (on someone in Jeff's family), and I'm eager to follow it.

Now I know I'm getting old.... One of the shows that I watch because I like the leading man is Eleventh Hour: Rufus Sewell portrays Dr. Jacob Hood. His looks are - interesting, definitely not a classic face; he was born and raised in England, his father being an Australian animator; I have only seen him in his portrayal of Jacob Hood, and so have only heard him speak with an American accent. Why do I say I'm getting old? Because it turns out that he is 11 years younger than I am. **Heavy sigh** I would like to hear him speak using his normal accent, though!

The Supervisor for the School Board for the young lady who has already had 10 days of suspension for having (fake) practice drill rifles in the rear of her SUV heard her case last night. He has 5 days in which to decide whether her 10 days of suspension is enough punishment - or if she will receive a Mandatory Expulsion for the rest of the year. The Marines have already said that they will accept her with gladness and her full scholarship - but they noted yesterday that if sh is expelled, then she will be unable to get assignments involving top-level security matters. - I still think that stinks!

And, on a happy note, on Tuesday afternoon a homeowner spotted a baby mountain lion "stuck" in a tree. This person called the Division of Wildlife (DoW), and the kit was taken by DoW, vetted, and began being bottle-fed. On Wednesday, the mother was trapped, tranquilized, vetted, and fitted with a radio collar. She and her cub were reunited, DoW made certain that the kit was accepted by the mother, and then both of them were transported 75 miles away into the National Forest. I hope they can live their lives in peace, without any more human interaction!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Social Interactions

My Pets

Cozy Kitty Cuddle

lilly kissing pup

Puppy Kiss - Lilly, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, and an as-yet-unnamed Border Collie pup

Guanaco and Calf

Guanaco and baby

Seeds, Guns, & An Autistic Professor

It's 20 degrees outside, and the sun is shining through high cirrus clouds. The kits went out for about 10 minutes, but decided it was better inside; Banichi is watching the patio from the cat tree and Lovey is sitting between me and the keyboard. My knees are a little stiff after my fall yesterday, but they seem to be doing OK. I'm walking the Irish kids at 9:30 instead of 10 today, and will stop at the store on the way home... I need to get kitty treats and sunflower seeds - I've found I can get hulled sunflower seeds in bulk at my local grocery store, and they cost almost a dollar less per pound than if I purchased them at a bird store.

People in Colorado (especially since the Columbine High School massacre) and all over the country are very concerned about guns or what appear to be guns on campus - and with very good reason. I do not disagree with school boards in their decision to ban all types of guns or gun lookalikes from all campuses. BUT. But there is a young lady who is a Senior in the Denver area; she is a member of the Honor Society; and she is in charge of a drill team that practices with mock rifles - they appear in parades and before games, presenting the US flag, state flag, etc. She forgot to remove 3 practice drill team rifles from the back of the SUV she drives to school. The rifles were made of wood, plastic, and were pretty much covered with duct tape; another student saw them in the rear of her vehicle. She is facing a Mandatory Suspension because Colorado state laws say absolutely NO Guns or Replicas of Guns on campus. She has been forced to stop her education, and the School Board will decide her fate early next week. This young lady has already been accepted into the Merchant Marine College; and, thankfully, they have announced that even if this young girl is dismissed from her school and cannot complete her education, they will accept her with her scholarship intact. I think that denying her the rest of her Senior year is stupid; people do make mistakes - even Honor Students.

Dr. Shapiro, my psychiatrist, asked me on Tuesday if I was planning on going to the Boulder Bookstore on Monday, February 16th. I asked him why, and he told me that on his way in to work, he had heard that Dr. Temple Grandin was appearing there, giving a presentation, and signing her new book. I told him I didn't know who she was and asked why should I go see her? He replied that she is a Professor of Animal Husbandry at Colorado State University, that she is autistic, and that she is an "animal whisperer, like you." He kindly printed out some info on her and her newest book, and gave it to me. So I am going to go see Dr. Grandin at 7:30 p.m. in the Boulder Bookstore on the Pearl Street Mall. Does she sound interesting to you? Here's the URL for a review of her newest book: I'm going to have to hit the public library and check out her books, and see if the semi-biography that HBO produced about her is also available.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Younger Family Members

Son Kevin Devine and friend DeMarco Davidson

My niece and nephew - Sarah and Michael Snow